This heavy necklace comprises 41 cast smaller and larger spherical beads, strung alternately, and one very large central bead that is cushion-shaped and has been cast with a large, pearled edge. All are strung on a cotton twine. Each component has the most superb wear and patina – the age of this item is very clear.
A similar necklace is in the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal in the Netherlands is illustrated in Grootaers & Eisenburger (2002, p. 357).
It is the product of the little-known Vere people, (also known as Duru-glass) – a group who inhabit Central Africa in north-eastern Nigeria and on the border with Cameroon. The group has almost died out – in 1890, they numbered around 60,000, and by 1970, their number was believed to be around at just 35,000. Approximately, a third are Muslim (Olson, 1996; Bacquart, 1998, p. 105).
According to Bacquart (1998, p. 105), traditionally, the Vere lived in round huts grouped in fortified cities and their artistic output was “limited to basketry and rare metal objects such as necklaces.” The item here is one of those rare necklaces.
The example here is in excellent condition with incontrovertible patina.
Bacquart, J. B., The Tribal Arts of Africa, Thames & Hudson, 1998.
Grootaers, J. L. & I. Eisenburger, Forms of Wonderment: The History and Collections of the Afrika Museum, Volume 2, Berg en Dal, 2002.
Leurquin, A., A World of Belts: Africa, Asia, Oceania, America from the Ghysels Collection, Skira, 2004.
Olson, J.S, ‘Duru-Glass’, in The Peoples of Africa: An Ethnohistorical Dictionary, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996.